The Alaskan was built at a turning point in Juneau and Alaskan history; just the year after the state became a territory. This accounts for a great deal of the hotel’s architectural diversity. The style, as noted by its ornate stringcourse, Victorian bay windows, and plush interior, is decidedly done in the late Victorian “Queen Anne” style.
The “Alaskan Hotel” is the oldest operating hotel in Alaska, opening on Tuesday, September 16, 1913. The hotel is an excellent architectural example of transitional change between 19th and 20th century. As a frontier mining camp, Juneau had developed a coterie of miner’s boarding and rooming houses; but few hotels. In the year 1912, an interesting triumvirate was formed: Jules B. Caro, promoter-entrepreneur, and the McCloskey brothers, James and John. Veteran miners of the Canadian Caribou, the McCloskey brothers had finally struck a rich pay-streak in the 25,000,000 diggings at Atlin, across the mountains northeast of Juneau in British Columbia. They acquired a prime location next door to the declining Central, in close proximity to the steamship docks and central to the business district.
Construction of the building began in April and took five months to finish. The opening night was a gala champagne event with two bands and free ferries between Douglas and Juneau. The Dispatch stated that “At 6 p.m. the management will formally unlock the doors and the keys with then be attached to a toy balloon which will carry them out of sight. From the moment the doors swing open, never to close, the hotel will be for the accommodation of guests.”
Features of the hotel included Steam Heat and a wireless station of 1 1/2 kilowatts on the roof. The hotel was called a “pocket edition of the best hotels on the Pacific coast.”
The “Alaskan Hotel” was placed on the national register of historic places on October 25, 1978. Present owners Mike and Bettye Adams, have renovated the hotel into its original Victorian style.
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